Florent Parmentier: Macron’s Political Career is on the Rise While Le Pen Reached the Pinnacle of Hers
After the first round of the French presidential elections, bitter social divisions have been in the international media spotlight. Numerous experts have been writing about a serious split in French society and have pointed to an essential detail. Emmanuel Macron’s electoral strength would not have allowed him to head into the run-off during the two previous presidential campaigns.
Analysts say that on winning the race for the Élysée Palace, both Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron will refrain from maintaining the status quo. Earlier, political fissures in France, like almost everywhere, were created by different approaches to the role of the state. Nowadays, however, the new political rift is not caused by economic issues. The candidates face off for the soul of France, for its identity.
The runoff will pit the candidates who are poles apart. France will either embrace free movement and globalism and engage in addressing global challenges or turn inward opting for “splendid isolation”, French observers state.
Florent Parmentier, Doctor of Political Science, Assistant Director of the School of Public Affairs at Sciences Po-Paris, commented on the state of affairs in the run-up to the second round.
– Neither the far-right candidate nor the socialist one made it to the run-off of the presidential campaign for the first time since 1965 as Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen defeated Jean-Luc Mélenchon, François Fillon, and Benoît Hamon.
Fillon trounced his rivals in the right-wing Republican Party primaries last November, depriving former Prime Minister Alain Juppé and former President Nicolas Sarkozy of a chance to win the nomination. Fillon’s victory seemed a cinch last year. His numerous supporters praised him for honesty and morality and his approval ratings were very high. Against the background, President Hollande was reluctant to seek re-election given his extremely poor popularity rating. As a result, all the three politicians – Juppé, Sarkozy, and Hollande – who embarked on their careers in 1970-1980, ended them over a few weeks. Similarly, Benoît Hamon defeated Manuel Valls at the Socialist Party primaries.
Interestingly, “the rebellion against elites” came to mean an electoral trump card. Le Pen established herself as “an anti-establishment candidate”, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon took over the leadership of the movement called La France Insoumise (France unbowed). Meanwhile, Fillion was regarded as a victim of the media slurs and Hamon could be called “a political rebel” within the Socialist party.
Even Macron, a graduate of France’s top-tier universities (Sciences Po and L’ENA) backed by many business and media tycoons, presented himself as a nonconformist in the French political system and the founder of his “En Marche!” movement.
Presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron is likely to beat Le Pen by a 60/40 margin for two main reasons. Firstly, his political career has been dynamically advancing, with politics favoring dynamism. As early as a year ago, Macron’s party did not even exist. On the contrary, Le Pen, who does not embody anything new, has already reached the apex of her political career. Although she has made it to the second round, she has failed to come in first, which she hoped to do as early as several weeks ago.
Secondly, the new round of elections largely amounts to new elections, with the candidates being under pressure to broaden their appeal. Macron has already been shored up by several left- and right-wing heavyweights, which, undoubtedly, will contribute to his convincing victory. Thus, the June parliamentary elections represent the real challenge to France, as nobody can count on a comfortable margin.